The Connection Between Sleep Apnea and Genetics

sleep apnea and genetics

If you have someone in your family who has been diagnosed with sleep apnea, it may be natural to wonder if you will develop sleep apnea too.

There has been a lot of research done over the years that looks at the connection between sleep apnea and genetics. While sleep apnea can run in the family, it is not necessarily known to be a condition that is genetic. There are, however, many risk factors of sleep apnea that do involve genetics. Here are a few of them:

Gender: sleep apnea is generally more common in males than females, but gender alone doesn’t always lead to a sleep apnea diagnosis, there are usually other factors involved.  

Lifestyle: certain lifestyle factors can be genetic and may lead to a sleep apnea diagnosis, such as excessive drinking and smoking, especially close to bedtime. Both of these things have been known to not only be genetic but also lead to a sleep apnea diagnosis.

The shape of your jaw or airway: this is usually a big risk factor in diagnosing sleep apnea, especially with certain features such as a larger tongue, large tonsils, overbite, or any other facial structure that risks crowding the space at the back of your throat. Facial structures like this are usually hereditary and tend to look the same from generation to generation.

Body type: individuals who are overweight or obese have a greater risk of being diagnosed with sleep apnea. Body fat distribution tends to be genetic most of the time, and a lot of genetic lifestyle factors and body structures can lead to a larger body type, which in turn can increase the risk of developing sleep apnea. 

Pre-existing health conditions: there are many genetic health conditions that can be a huge risk factor in a sleep apnea diagnosis. Some of these include heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes.

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